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Chinese general commits suicide amid corruption probe

BEIJING: A Chinese general hanged himself in his Beijing home after becoming the latest top official ensnared in President Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-corruption campaign, state media said yesterday.

General Zhang Yang, the director of the state's Central Military Commission's political department, was being investigated over connections to two corruption-tainted former senior military officers when he committed suicide on Nov 23, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The probe into Gen Zhang followed Mr Xi's pledge during last month's Communist Party conclave to intensify graft crackdowns, which have already brought down 1.5 million party officials - including top military brass - since 2012.

According to Xinhua, which cited a commission statement, Gen Zhang "gravely violated disciplinary protocols and broke the law, was suspected of bribery as well as taking bribes, and holding valuable assets whose origins are unclear".

A post on a social media account managed by the People's Liberation Army Daily, the military's official newspaper, accused Gen Zhang of "escaping responsibility" via suicide.

"The once-high-and-mighty general has ended his life in this disgraceful way," the post said, calling Gen Zhang a "two-faced" person who "shouted loyalty from his mouth while committing corruption behind his back".

It said: "The army holds the barrel of a gun - we cannot allow any corrupt elements to hide behind it."

Mr Xi has sought to enhance his control over the 2 million-strong military, the world's largest, reshuffling its leadership and vowing to make it "world class" by 2050.

The military was ordered earlier this month to pledge to be "absolutely loyal, honest and reliable to Xi" in a new guideline released by the military leadership.

Though China's military budget remains three times smaller than that of the US, its spending has grown steadily for 30 years, with purchases and the construction of fighter jets, ships and high-tech weaponry. - AFP

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